Air Time is Branch Nebula’s new show that mixes dance with skateboarding and roller skating with BMX. It premieres tonight in Wollongong. Read our interview with Cloé Fournier, dancer in this show.
You dance in Branch Nebula’s new show called Air Time. Tell us about this show.
Air Time is Branch Nebula’s new and unusual show directed by Lee Wilson and Mirabelle Wouters. On stage, the audience discovers a fascinating mix of several disciplines: dance, parkour, BMX, skateboarding and roller skating. Air Time is complex, spectacular and precisely choreographed. It is a unique show and I am very proud to be part of it.
What can the audience expect from this show?
They have to expect the unthinkable. I think the audience will be surprised because it’s a show unlike any they’ve seen before. I also hope they will be inspired by what we have created.
Why mix skateboarding and BMX with dance and parkour?
That’s more a question for the directors than for me! But I’ll answer simply: why not?
Mixing disciplines allows for artistic renewal, pushing the artistic possibilities, challenging the spectator as well.
It’s not easy to conceive a show like Air Time, first of all because it’s not easy to find performers who will agree to play the game, to experiment, to do things they may never have done before. At one point or another, during development, we all found ourselves outside our comfort zone. For this show, we really go beyond what we think we can do and I guess that comes partly from working with performers from different disciplines. It pushes us, it stimulates us, it makes us think differently, understand the movement differently etc… Finally, by collaborating, it’s our creative spirit that grows and I think it makes for a show that will leave more than one person in awe.
Do they complement or contrast each other?
I would say that they complement and contrast each other at the same time. One without the other, the show wouldn’t exist. What I like is the mix between the fragility and the strength of the human body which contrasts, yes and no, with ‘the machine’ by machine I mean the bike, the skateboard and the roller skate.
When and how did you become part of Branch Nebula? You were in DEMO with them as well. Any other projects too?
I started with Branch Nebula in 2011 so I’ve been working on some of their projects for a while now. I met Lee Wilson, one of the directors at a workshop organised by Simone O’Brien at Legs on the Wall. At the end of the workshop and a trial period on the first development of Concrete and Bone Sessions, he invited me to be part of the show as a performer/displayer. We presented the show for Sydney Festival 2013 and then Santiago A Mil in 2014 in Chile. To this day, Concrete and Bones Sessions is one of my best memories as a performer. I love this show.
Then I participated in some of the Snake Sessions performances. Last year we toured Demi DEMO, a 15 minute show followed by workshops with the locals. In 2022, we were supposed to perform DEMO for the Sydney Festival but COVID decided otherwise and we unfortunately cancelled the season at the last minute. Some of the team members were infected and with a show like this, it’s hard to replace performers.
So, I’m really happy that we can come back with an indoor show that will shake up the theatre as we know it. I think it’s great that this time BMX, skateboarding, roller skating and parkour are coming on stage and not the dancers going to the skate park!
How is Air Time different from DEMO?
DEMO, was a shorter show, about 30mins, I think with Air Time it’s more like 60 mins. DEMO was also an outdoor show. I also think that with Air Time, Lee and Mirabelle guided us into a slightly different aesthetic. They incorporated some of their artistic experimentation as they did in Crush.
For example, we have done a lot of work with objects. We used them as obstacles, which pushed our imagination and the possibilities of the show. With Air Time, we tried to keep the ‘wow’ effect by mixing in some experimental stuff. I think we really had fun, like kids finding a new way to have fun or somehow challenging each other in a way that seems impossible and yet…
DEMO was 30 minutes non-stop. With Air Time, the notion of time, of suspense is different.
You are not only a performer in Branch Nebula’s shows but also a devisor. Tell us a little about the creative process.
Working with Branch Nebula means working in a real democracy. As a performer/devisor, our opinion counts and is respected. As well as giving us tasks, the directors also listen to what anyone else might suggest. This creates a real sense of sharing.
On the other hand, on stage, you might think that there is a certain anarchy. A form of organised chaos, because what we do is dangerous and we have to be precise. It is important to note that the show is choreographed from A to Z.
I think Branch Nebula takes the time to develop its artists. For some of them, it will be their first time on a stage. That’s rare and I think it’s great. I learn a lot from working with Lee and Mirabelle but also with all the other artists in the company (Tia, Feras, Jakeb, Alex, Nakula, Tristan and Austin).
You are Franco-Australian I believe? Are your parents Franco-Australian? How long have you been living in Australia?
I was born in France but I immigrated to Australia in 2007. I was originally going to be here for a year but I’m still here now. Somehow I fell in love with this country. My parents are French and still live in France. It’s just me here!
How long have you been dancing?
I’ve been dancing since I was very young. I started when I was four or five.
What is your dance background?
I trained in classical and contemporary dance at the Conservatoire de Saint-Etienne in France until I graduated. When I came to Australia I started Physical Theatre as well as aerial dance and martial arts.
When and why did you decide to pursue a career in dance?
I don’t know. I can’t really explain it. My mum told me that one day I just asked her to enrol me in a dance class. She did and I never stopped. If I don’t dance, I’m not really me.
Why should people go to see Air Time?
This show is for people who are used to going to the theatre as well as for people who have never been to the theatre, for adults and children. It’s a show for everyone. I really think that everyone will enjoy it. And I’m sure that for most people it will be a show like nothing they’ve ever seen before.
We thank Cloé Fournier for this interview.
KEY INFO FOR AIR TIME
WHAT: Air Time by Branch Nebula
WHEN: 20-22 April 2023
- Thu 20 April, 6.30pm,
- Friday 21 April, 7.30pm
- Saturday 22 April, 1.30 pm and 7.30 pm
WHERE: Main Auditorium – Wollongong City Hall
HOW: Purchase your tickets via this link: https://merrigong.com.au/shows/air-time/
HOW MUCH: Ticket prices are as follows:
- Premium: $59,
- Adult: $49,
- Retired/students/groups 8+ $44,
- Under 30 $39,
- School groups 8+ $23,
- Family of 4 $156 (2 adults maximum)
To find out about other events related to French culture and language and the Francophonie, see our What’s on in April